Law Question: An eyewitness said there was rape, but the doctor said there was no rape. Who shall be believed by the court?
The Credibility of Evidence in a Rape Case
State of Haryana vs. Bhagirath, 1996
It was held that the opinion given by a medical witness need not be the last word on the subject. The court shall consider the opinion given by the witness. If the court finds the opinion illogical, then the court is not bound to go by that opinion. But certainly, due weightage must be given to the advice given by the persons who are experts in their particular subject.
The apex court of India held that where the medical evidence varies with optical evidence, it would be incorrect to give undue importance to the expert opinion of medical witnesses to exclude the evidence presented by eyewitnesses, which must be examined independently and should not be treated merely as a variant by keeping the medical evidence as to the constant and of utmost importance.
Where the eyewitness’ account is found credible and trustworthy, a medical opinion pointing to the alternative possibilities cannot be accepted as conclusive.
Garre Mallikharjuna Rao vs. Nalabothu Punniah, 2013
In this case, there is a caution for the court that it should not play the role of expert itself. Sometimes there have been issues of whether ocular (vision) evidence or expert evidence is better. Then for such situations, the court has opined that where ocular evidence is available, it should be given preference over expert evidence.
So we can conclude that the court does not neglect any evidence. It considers all pieces of evidence put before it and relies on that which is worthy of credit and trust.
Follow-up Question: But in rape cases, medical reports are necessary?
Yes, medical reports are necessary for rape cases. Section 164A of CrPC provides for medical examination of rape by a registered medical practitioner within 24 hours of information of the incident, and such examination is done with the consent of the woman.